The Divine Trinunity, Francis Cheynell Chapter 5 - The Manner of God's Being.
July 14, 2018
The Manner of God's Being or Subsisting in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is the best manner of Being that is or can be, and the single Godhead is thereby thrice illustrious throughout the world.
Hitherto we have contended for the truth of this Divine Being or Subsisting: Now we shall demonstrate the excellency thereof. God is made known to us as the everlasting Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and is to be adored and worshipped as the Father of our Lord Jesus, Rom. 15. 6 & Eph. 1. 3, 2 & Cor. 1. 3. If God had been the Father of men and Father of angels only, and not the Father of our Lord Jesus, he would not have been so exceeding glorious as now he is: for angles have but a finite excellency; but when he begets a Son equal to himself, without any change in himself; and the begetting of this glorious Person, is as eternal as the Divine Nature itself; This mystery is exceeding glorious and admirable, and like the Godhead incomprehensible. Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ his own Son, Rom. 8. 32 and his only Son begotten by eternal generation, John 1. 14 being the illustrious brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express character of his subsistence, is so exceeding glorious, that the most glorious angels above are commanded to adore and worship him, Heb. 1. 3, 4, 5, 6. For to which of the Angels said God at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And therefore when he brings his first-begotten, and his only begotten Son into the world, he saith, And let all the Angels of God worship him. Behold how the Godhead shines gloriously not only in one single Person, but in Father and Son both, by this manner of subsistence; that every tongue may confess Jesus Christ to be God and Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And therefore the Father is not lessened or robbed of his glory, by the glory of his co-equal Son, Phil. 2. 6, 11, but there is a pious acknowledgment made of this glorious mystery, which does very much redound to the glory of God the Father. For by this means God the Father is acknowledged to be the first personal principle subsisting of himself, and by himself; for he received not his subsistence from any other, and he gives subsistence unto two glorious Persons equal with himself.
The Socinians seem to be very zealous for the glory of God the Father; and therefore they deny the Godhead of Christ and the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father, as they pretend: but the Scripture teaches us the contrary, namely to confess the Godhead of Christ and the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. For it does exceedingly redound to the glory of the Father, that he gives subsistence unto two glorious Persons who are equal to himself, and yet receives no subsistence from them, or any other. For as the Father has life in him∣self, so has he given to the Son to have life in himself, John 5. 26. There is a subsisting life given to the Son by an eternal generation; and the Father has life in himself, and self-subsistence also. And yet on the other side, it is no dishonour to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to receive subsisting life from the Father; for the Son has life in himself also, and being God of himself, quickens whom he will by his divine power even as the Father does; for he has the very same power and will which the Father has, because they have both one and the same divine nature; and therefore the Jews did conclude aright, when they said, that our Lord Jesus made himself equal with God by saying he was the Son of God, John 5. 18. It is no dishonour to Jesus Christ to receive subsisting life in such a glorious way from the Father, as that he is equal with the Father, nay one with the Father, and therefore is to be worshipped with one and the same worship with the Father, with divine and spiritual worship, inward and outward worship the worship of our bodies and souls, of our whole man. For all men are bound to honour the Son, as they honour the Father, John 5. 23. And let all Socinians take special notice of what follows: He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him; John 5. 23, let them not then pretend, that they dishonour the Son (by denying his Godhead) to the glory of God the Father; for the Father will maintain and vindicate the honour of his first-begotten, and only begotten Son. And let them diligently consider that text in the 2nd Epistle of John. Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he who abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. It is for the honour of our great ruler Jesus Christ, that he was begotten from the days of eternity, Mic. 5. 2.
Finally, it does much redound to the glory of the Father and the Son, that both do concur to give subsisting life to the co-equal Spirit by Eternal Spiration. The Father and Son do both breathe forth this glorious Spirit. The Spirit of Elohim, of both Persons, Gen. 1, 2. The Spirit that proceeds from the Father, John 15. 26 is sent by Christ from the Father, and the Spirit is given by Christ. Christ breathed upon the Apostles, when he gave the Holy Ghost to them, to show that the Spirit was breathed forth by himself as well as from the Father, John 20. 22. And he is often called the Spirit of the Son. The Holy Ghost does receive of that which is Christ’s, as well as the Father’s, John 16. 14, 15 and Christ is glorified by the Spirit, John 16. 14 as the Father is glorified by Christ. For Christ receives from the Father, and the Spirit from Christ, what they both reveal to the Church of Christ. Nor is it any dishonour to the Spirit to proceed from the Father and the Son in such a glorious way as to be equal with them, nay one with them 1 John 5. 7. For all the churches of Christ are obliged by the first Sacrament of Christianity, to honour the Holy Ghost with their bodies and souls, which are his holy temple as they honour the Father and the Son. The Spirit of Jehovah is the God of Israel. 2 Sam 23. 2, 3. The Holy Ghost, as he is one God with the Father and the Son, has an infinite essence, which does exist of itself though as he is the third Person, he has not subsistence from himself, but by emanation, procession, spiration from the Father and the Son; and yet both concur to build a temple to the Holy Spirit that he may be worshipped as God. These three, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, do take mutual delight, content, and satisfaction in one another; The distinction be∣tween them is not Absolute, but Relative only they do mutually subsist in one another, and all of them subsist in the same glorious Godhead, which Godhead dwells equally in its fulness in all three, and is as truly the nature of the Holy Ghost, as it is the nature of the Father and the Son. And this Divine Nature is infinite, not included in, or excluded from any place.
The Divine Works, whereby the glory of the Godhead is so much manifested unto us are performed by the Godhead subsisting in the Holy Ghost as well as in the Father and the Son: For all the works of God upon or about the Creature for their creation, sustentation or regulation are inseparably united; as Augustine often argues, and the schoolmen from him: All things are of the Father by the Son and through the Spirit, 1 Cor. 8. 6, & John 5. 19. & John 1. 3. & Gen. 1. 2. & 1 Cor. 12. 11, 13 & Eph. 2. 18 so that by the majesty of all three shining in the Word and the joint concurrence of all three in every work that is properly divine, the Godhead is made thrice illustrious throughout the world, and yet the Godhead remains singly and singularly one in all three Subsistences.
Finally the natural and infinite perfection of the Godhead requires this wonderful communication of subsistence by the Father as the first Personal Principle to the Son, and by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost. For it is most certain that God is not capable of any other being, or any other manner of being or subsisting than what he has, for he has the best being that is, nay the best that can be, because the being of God and the manner of being or subsisting of the Godhead in these three, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is infinitely perfect, and there can be no better being, or manner of being or subsisting than that which is perfect, infinite, and infinity perfect. The Father did not arbitrarily beget his Son, nor did the Father and the Son arbitrarily concur in breathing forth the Holy Ghost, but the natural and infinite perfection of the Godhead did require this wonderful communication of itself, because such is the natural perfection of the Divine Nature or Godhead, that it could not be fully communicated, unless subsistence were communicated by the Father to the Son, and by both to the Spirit for their mutual, eternal, infinite satisfaction and delight; and therefore the Father did not beget his Son, nor did the Father and Son breath forth the Spirit arbitrarily, but naturally and necessarily, though voluntarily for the eternal satisfaction of all three Subsistences, that the whole Godhead might be in every one of these three according to its infinite perfection, and all three subsist in the unity of the Godhead, and dwell in one another, mutually possess, love and glorify one another from everlasting to everlasting, because all three are co-essential, co-equal, co-eternal every one of the Persons, the third as well as the first, being God by nature, Gal 4. 8. and not by the mere favour of any one or more of the co-essential Persons. And therefore both the generation of the Son and breathing forth of the Spirit must needs be eternal, because both are natural: for whatsoever is natural unto God must needs be eternal: but because the Father is the first personal principle of subsisting life, all is from him by the Son. 1 Cor. 8. 6. and all is referred back again to him as the first personal principle, even by the Son, John 5. 19 in regard of the Father’s self-subsistence, his order of subsisting, and his communicating of subsistence to the Son and Holy Ghost, though all things in the world are wrought by the Spirit also as has been shown: And hence it is that the name of God is most familiarly given to the Father both in the Old and the New Testament, though Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all equally God, nay are one and the same God, who is the only true God blessed for ever. We may then look upon the Son, admire and bless the Father, look upon the Father and bless the Son, look upon Father and Son and bless the Spirit, look upon all three, admire and bless, adore and love, know, believe and obey all three coequal persons, subsisting in the same most single Godhead, and have access to the Father through the Son, and by the Spirit with reverence and confidence, zeal and love.